West Texas Talk:
Voices of Blackwell Series

The “Voices of Blackwell” series was produced in partnership with the Blackwell School Alliance. The segregated institution was open from the late nineteenth century and closed in 1965 with the integration of schools in town. Although Hispanics were not legally segregated, Marfa practiced de-facto segregation. Anglo children attended Marfa Elementary, and Hispanic children went to the Blackwell School. 

The series explores the social mores of this era through the eyes of those who lived through it.

  • Mario Rivera attended the Blackwell School in the fifties and went on to become Presidio County’s Treasurer for 32 years.
  • Lionel Salgado attended the Blackwell school from 1941 to 1951. He went on to serve on the school board and worked for Presidio County for over a decade.
  • Maggie Marquez attended Blackwell in the fifties. She recounts her experience of “Burying Mr. Spanish.”
  • Dawn Shannon was born and raised in Marfa in the fifties. She attended Marfa Elementary, but her mother, Mildred Shannon, taught at Blackwell.
  • The last story comes from Jessi Silva. She attended the school in the first grade, before moving to California. Silva returned to Marfa in the sixth grade, and reflects on the discrimination she experienced growing up.

About Diana Nguyen

Diana Nguyen produces the interview program West Texas Talk. She is particularly interested in exploring the intersection of range life, high-brow art, and the vast oil fields of West Texas.
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West Texas Talk is broadcast at 6:30 pm each weekday.
View the full archive of past interviews here.